The last time Cynthia Lacroix co-directed the whimsical musical production The Wiz!, she was a first-year theatre teacher at Garibaldi Secondary.
“And that was 31 years ago!” she says, sitting front row inside the Garibaldi Theatre, directing a dress rehearsal for this year’s student production of The Wiz!
“Without really realizing it, I picked the play that was the first play that brought me onboard to Garibaldi because the woman who was running the program would not start musicals until she had a teaching partner – and that teaching partner was me,” she explains.
This time around, Lacroix chose to produce The Wiz after she knew that she was getting a new teaching partner. “It’s a show that requires two full-time people.”
Enter stage right: Sharmila Miller, Garibaldi’s first-year dance, drama and academy teacher. “How serendipitous it was that it was my first year of teaching, and we are doing The Wiz [together],” she says.
Miller, who worked in film for four years before studying at UBC to earn her bachelor of education, says the calibre of the musical productions staged at Garibaldi has been an “eye-opener” for her.
“The level at which these kids, and Cyndy and the staff and parents who are coming to help us are working at has been amazing.”
The Wiz, a retelling of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, first debuted as a musical film in 1978 starring an all-black cast.
“Now, we are reimaging it into a rock version,” she says, noting that a “steampunk” aesthetic – think science fiction meets steam-powered contraptions – provides the connecting theme throughout the story. “It’s fantastical, so I’m excited about the beauty of the show.”
The production will require a production team of up to a dozen to do costumes and makeup.
Dozens of others will work behind the scenes to operate and manage the lighting, sound, and props and accessories. “We figure we are upwards of 500 costume pieces,” she says.
Garibaldi’s Interdisciplinary Arts Academy allows students to pursue an education in theatre and explore career opportunities in theatre, dance, voice, film and television.
During the program, which runs from September to December, students have the chance to participate in hands-on workshops run by industry experts that focus on every aspect of staging a production. Many program graduates go on to pursue careers in theatre, dance, voice, film, television and music.
Lacroix is especially excited to co-direct her first production with her new teaching partner.
“It’s full-circle for me. Here we are with Sharmila in her first year, the same age as me when I was brought in; it’s just amazing all the parallels and so full circle.”
The Wiz runs nightly from Tuesday, November 26 to Saturday, November 30, starting at 7:30 pm at the Garibaldi Secondary Theatre, 24789 Dewdney Trunk Road, Maple Ridge.
Tickets (cash only) are available at the Garibaldi Secondary office, Little Cricket Gift Gallery (22347 Lougheed Highway) and the door (depending on availability): adults $18, seniors and students $15.